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Pregnant and Taking it Down a Notch or Ten

By Anna Cummins, 2008 Olympic Champion

Once an Olympic champion, I could now barely get out of bed and go for a walk, let alone get to the Pocock Rowing Center or Crossfit Bellevue. I knew something crazy was happening inside my body. For the first time in my life, I felt like the anti-athlete. As an athlete my whole life and an elite rower for ten years, any form of working out always made me feel like a million bucks, maybe not during, but for sure after each workout. In my first trimester with my first baby, the thought of any form of exercise was like thinking about rowing an Olympic final with no prior training. I did not want to go there. Not only did I avoid getting a rush from a little workout, I also wasn’t very hungry. Hmmm, who is this new person in my body and where did I go?

Pregnancy is a time to learn a lot about your body and that of what it takes to create a new body in the form of a little baby. Every woman has a different journey and the most important thing I have learned so far is to listen to what my body is telling me about the race ahead. In my first trimester, the message my body kept sending me was to take it down a notch or ten. As US Olympic coxswain Mary Whipple would say when we were out for a swing row in the eight, “let’s let the boat glide out and cruise at two beats down on this one.”

That said, my best workouts were walks around the neighborhood, getting to Crossfit once a week, and doing a slow swing row. When rowing, I could make it about 20 minutes at the slowest pace ever (for me:). Let’s say I was impressed at rowing 2:12. (Pre-pregnancy, I’d feel great at 2:02). In my first trimester, 3 out of 4 mornings, I hit my snooze button to just keep sleeping and I never felt rested! I felt so out of it that the only thing I could rally around was to simply show up and move.

We all know that exercise makes for healthier babies and for healthier moms. As much as I’d like to sleep in every day and not take that walk or trip to the Box, I knew I needed to try. I take the time to get adjusted by my chiropractor (that’s Dr. Bob Cummins) each week because I know it’s good for me and the health of our baby. Why don’t I get my body up and moving with the exercise I also know is awesome for my health? Hence, the only thing that will be different in my second trimester compared to the first is to have an exercise plan and to try to be disciplined.

It’s never too late to change a race plan, so don’t worry, my “plan” is now in full effect for the second trimester. January 1st and a New Years’ resolution couldn’t have come at a better time. However, my focus on exercise while pregnant is not competitive, it’s health. I still remember to listen to my body, take rest, scale the weights down, and cut out a round or two if my body is telling me.

Hang in there all you Pregger-Rowers, Crossfitters and anyone trying to make a change! Know you have a fellow pregnant friend who is just as unmotivated as you are. Keep trying to get your body moving and keep listening!

First Trimester recommended Rowing W.O.D.

Warm-up: Spinal hygiene exercises or Joint articulations,10 air squats, 10 side lunges, 10 push-ups, 1000m easy row
Advanced: 2 rounds of 1000 row, 20 squats, 750 row, 15 squats, 500 row, 10 squats rest 2min. between rounds.
Intermediate: 1000 row, 20 squats, 750 row, 15 squats, 500 row, 10 squats
Beginner: 750 row, 15 squats, 500 row, 10 squats, 250 row, 5 squats
Post row: Easy row 500m, Stretch: Hamstrings, Hip Flexors, Quads, Calves.

Anyone wishing more information may contact Dr. Cummins, whose office is located at 4122 Factoria Blvd. SE, Suite 202, Bellevue, WA (telephone 425-590-9158).